Marking a philosophical shift in the way Panasonic sees the future, the electronics maker plans to invest $1 billion before 2012 to transition its principal business focus to equipping homes and buildings with solar power and energy saving technologies.
Still the world’s largest maker of plasma TVs, the company will not cease making them. However, Panasonic is shifting its focus to “change our fighting ring from our current categories to a different field,” Panasonic President Fumio Ohtsubo told Bloomberg. Ohtsubo cited heavy competition from Samsung, a company that he said had more room to grow in traditional electronics.
The business shift comes on the heels of Panasonic’s purchase of Sanyo Electric Co., which has invested heavily in solar and energy storage technologies.
Already, Sanyo is selling all-electric homes that have solar panels and lithium-ion batteries to provide backup power in Japan. Sanyo Homes Co., a subsidiary of Sanyo, is selling pre-fabricated homes with 3.78 kilowatt solar power system, along with a 1.57 kilowatt battery system to provide power at night or on cloudy and rainy days.
Ohtsubo sees a future where consumers can monitor their electricity use and other energy data on their television sets, with the system tied into solar panels that offset energy use and emissions from appliances in the home.
“The future is not 20 to 30 years out. Within two to three years, Panasonic can realize this kind of concept,” he told Bloomberg, adding that he envisions the technologies helping reduce energy use 30-50 percent in the home.
In its own operations, Panasonic is working on its “Eco Ideas for Manufacturing.” The company has set targets to reduce its CO2 emissions in its production activities by 300,000 tons on a global basis by FY 2010, in comparison to the FY 2007 level.